Hammer toes are classified based on the mobility of the toe joints. There are two types. Flexible and rigid. In a flexible hammertoe
, the joint has the ability to move. This type of hammer toe can be straightened
manually. A rigid hammer toe does not have that same ability to move. Movement is very limited and can be extremely painful. This sometimes causes foot movement to become restricted leading to extra
stress at the ball-of-the-foot, and possibly causing pain and the development of corns and calluses.
The muscles of each toe work in pairs. When the toe muscles get out of balance, a hammertoe can form. Muscle imbalance puts a lot of pressure on the toe's tendons and joints. This pressure forces the
toe into a hammerhead shape. How do the toe muscles get out of balance? There are three main reasons. Genes. you may have inherited a tendency to develop hammertoes because your feet are somewhat
unstable, they may be flat or have a high arch. Arthritis. Injury to the toe, ill-fitting shoes are the main culprits. If shoes are too tight, too short, or too pointy, they push the toes out of
balance. Pointy, high-heeled shoes put particularly severe pressure on the toes.
The symptoms of a hammer toe are usually first noticed when a corn develops on the top of the toe and becomes painful, usually when wearing tight shoes. There may be a bursa under the corn or instead
of a corn, depending on the pressure. Most of the symptoms are due to pressure from footwear on the toe. There may be a callus under the metatarsal head at the base of the toe. Initially a hammer toe
is usually flexible, but when longstanding it becomes more rigid.
Hammertoes are progressive, they don?t go away by themselves and usually they will get worse over time. However, not all cases are alike, some hammertoes progress more rapidly than others. Once your
foot and ankle surgeon has evaluated your hammertoes, a treatment plan can be developed that is suited to your needs.
Non Surgical Treatment
Apply a commercial, nonmedicated hammertoe pad around the bony prominence of the hammertoe. This will decrease pressure on the area. Wear a shoe with a deep toe box. If the hammertoe becomes inflamed
and painful, apply ice packs several times a day to reduce swelling. Avoid heels more than two inches tall. A loose-fitting pair of shoes can also help protect the foot while reducing pressure on the
affected toe, making walking a little easier until a visit to your podiatrist can be arranged. It is important to remember that, while this treatment will make the hammertoe feel better, it does not
cure the condition. A trip to the podiatric physician?s office will be necessary to repair the toe to allow for normal foot function. Avoid wearing shoes that are too tight or narrow. Children should
have their shoes properly fitted on a regular basis, as their feet can often outgrow their shoes rapidly. See your podiatric physician if pain persists.
If a person's toes have become very inflexible and unresponsive to non-invasive means of treatment and if open sores have developed as a result of constant friction, they may receive orthopaedic
surgery to correct the deformity. The operation is quick and is commonly performed as an out-patient procedure. The doctor administers a local anesthetic into the person's foot to numb the site of
the operation. The person may remain conscious as the surgeon performs the procedure. A sedative might also be administered to help calm the person if they are too anxious.
wear sensible shoes. Here are some tips. Most people have one foot that's bigger than the other. Fit your shoes to the bigger foot. Buy your shoes at the end of the day as your feet tend to swell a
bit and you will get a better sense of fit. When you buy your shoes, wear the sock that you will be using when wearing that shoe - wear a sports sock when buyingtrainers, for example. As you get
older, your feet get bigger. Get your feet measured every time you buy shoes. Don't go by shoe sizes. Shoe sizes vary among manufacturers; a shoe is the right size only when it fits comfortably. The
ball of your foot should fit into the widest part of the shoe. A shoe should be sturdy so
that it only bends in the ball of the foot, exactly where your big toes bend. Any shoe that can be bent anywhere along the sole or twisted side to side is generally too flimsy. There should be at
least 1.5 cm between the tip of your longest toe and the front of the shoe. Never buy shoes that feel tight and expect them to stretch with wearing. If you have prominent areas on your feet such as
hammer toes and bunions, avoid shoes with a lot of stitching or multiple pieces of fabric, as these stitched areas tend not to stretch to accommodate various toe deformities. Your shoes shouldn't
ride up and down on your heel as you walk. The higher the heel, the less safe the shoe. Check children's shoes regularly.